How to use AI in job applications and what to avoid
By Ian Nicholas, Global Managing Director, Reed
As ChatGPT and AI continue to take the world by storm, jobseekers are starting to explore how these can help to shortcut the time-consuming application process for new roles. Whether it’s getting ChatGPT to write your cover letters or CV from scratch, or using it to match your skills to different job descriptions, the AI software can help you to save a lot of time in the application process – but it should be used with caution. In this article, Ian Nicholas, Global Managing Director at Reed shares his top tips for using AI to its full potential in job applications.
When using AI to apply for jobs, you can ultimately risk losing the personal touch that should be incorporated in an application. Although AI may ensure your application includes the required skills, it may not always reflect these in the best way – and that can be the difference between reaching the next stage of the recruitment process and facing rejection. In the job application process, AI should be used in balance with human input to ensure you’re making the most of the technology’s full potential, without losing the essential thought processes only humans can bring.
How AI can help and the problems it can create
Technology has been created to support our work, but it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for actually doing the work. What this means is that you will ultimately always need to review and decide whether your application is good enough or not.
For example, an app called LazyApply can help you to apply to hundreds of jobs each day with a single click. The smart AI automatically creates cover letters and intelligently answers questions for applications based on the information you input. However, the main issue with this is that the AI isn’t you. It may emphasise skills or experiences you don’t truly have, or it could just as easily undersell those that you do. This can result in people losing opportunities they could have had a strong chance at by trusting AI to do the work alone.
AI such as ChatGPT can also help to put together your CV. However, when experimenting with the software, some key issues begin to surface. For example, the chatbot can forget the original details it was asked to bullet point, forcing users to remind the AI of its own advice after it missed out vital points. Additionally, content generated in this way is at risk of being fairly generic and unengaging, leaving recruiters missing an accurate depiction of the person they’re assessing.
However, there are clear benefits – one of them being that it can help you to begin to overcome what is often a painstaking task: promoting yourself. There’s plenty of evidence of candidates who have used ChatGPT successfully to write their CV and cover letter, going on to secure an interview, and in some cases, a new role.
With more people using AI to build their CV, users need to be aware of best practices. Of course it can save a lot of time, but you also need to ensure bullet points and descriptions that are provided are not only accurate but also grammatically correct. As an example, as it’s an American software, ChatGPT will automatically default to using American English and spelling, and perhaps Americanisms, throughout the text it generates.
AI can be extremely helpful to support job searches, but it’s important to always do your own research, tailor your job application materials to individual roles and make sure the company and its culture are a good fit for you.
The best way to use AI for job applications
To make the most of AI – and avoid the common pitfalls – there are a handful of rules to follow:
Research suitable jobs
You can ask ChatGPT to find job roles that match your skills and experience, using it to search job boards and provide you with a list of relevant jobs. It can also help you to prepare for your interviews by highlighting common interview questions, so you can practice your answers. However, if you’re using the software for this, it’s important to specify you’re in the UK, as job roles can be different in different countries, and ChatGPT will often produce American results, without prompting.
Try asking ChatGPT:
- I am currently studying for my BA in law. I am interested in mergers, acquisitions and finance. I love to solve problems. Give me a list of UK jobs that suit me.
- Give me a list of job roles in the UK legal industry from highest to lowest in terms of salary.
Look for ideal companies
AI can also help you to research the companies you’re interested in working for by highlighting information about the company’s culture, mission and values, as well as any recent news or developments – all of which can help to strengthen your application.
Try asking ChatGPT:
- Give me a list of the best companies to start my career as a software engineer in the UK.
- Tell me about the cultures and values of Microsoft.
The skills you need to boast about
You can also use ChatGPT to help you tailor your CV to a particular role’s job description. For example, you can ask the software to specify the skills needed for a role – but again, be careful you’re checking how they suit the job application.
Try asking ChatGPT:
- What are the skills needed for a marketing manager?
Write a summary
ChatGPT can help you to put together parts of your CV or cover letter, but you should be specific and tell the AI about your current experience clearly.
For example, if you ask ChatGPT: “I am a marketing specialist with three years’ experience. I have social media experience and can write content. Write a short summary for my CV.”
It responds: “As a marketing specialist with three years of experience, I have developed expertise in social media marketing and content creation. With a strong background in marketing strategy and a keen eye for detail, I have helped businesses build their brand and reach new audiences through creative and effective marketing campaigns. My skills in social media management and content creation have enabled me to craft engaging and compelling content that resonates with target audiences. I am a driven and results-oriented marketer, committed to delivering measurable results for my clients and continuously improving my skills to stay ahead of the curve.”
Impressive, but you can quickly see how it needs refining, which leads to the final point…
Check everything before sending
Technology can misunderstand the information you input. As a result, the questions it answers may be inaccurate or irrelevant – and this is especially important when it comes to sensitive or nuanced conversations around salary negotiations or company culture, for example.
While the internet allows AI to access a vast amount of information, its knowledge may be biased and limited to certain regions or industries. Sometimes, because you need to do an extra audit yourself, it can be easier to skip the AI process and do the research yourself.
Applying for jobs is time-consuming when it’s done properly, especially when it comes to carefully tailoring CVs and cover letters to certain jobs and companies, and AI can help to speed up what can be an arduous process.
However, it’s still extremely important for those using AI in the job application process to oversee and check what the software has created – an integrated AI and human approach is best.